This book explores English tragedy in relation to France with a frank concentration on Shakespeare. Three manifestations of the 'Shakespearean tragic' are singled out: Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra and All's Well That Ends Well, a comedy with melancholic overtones whose French setting is shown to be richly significant. Hamlet has occasioned many books on its own, including a recent study by Margreta De Grazia, Hamlet without Hamlet, whose objective is to free the text from the 'Modern Hamlet'. The influence of Michel de Montaigne on Hamlet is usually assumed to have left its traces in more or less precise verbal or intellectual correspondences. The book proposes two further sources of French resonance accessible to auditors of the ultimate early modern English tragedy. It talks about two French Antonies. One is the steadfast friend of Caesar and avenging Triumvir, as heralded in Jacques Grévin's César and vividly evoked in Robert Garnier's Porcie. The other is the hedonist who ruins himself for Cleopatra, as first brought on stage in France by Étienne Jodelle in Cléopâtre captive, then substantially fleshed out in Garnier's own Marc Antoine. The distance between the tragedies and All's Well comes down to the difference between horizontal and vertical lifeless bodies. When he grafted the true-to-life histoire tragique of Hélène of Tournon onto the fairy-tale of Giletta of Narbonne, Shakespeare retained the latter's basic family situation. Shakespeare's Helena succeeds where the King has failed by exploiting her position as an outsider.
This chapter explores the idea of poetry as autobiography using R. S. Thomas's poem 'This To Do'. 'This To Do' is a good place to start because it falls 'on the cusp', as it were, of Thomas's geographical move and a corresponding intensification of the autobiographical instinct. It is a good start of place also because it says something about what poetry as autobiography is for Thomas. The chapter relies upon Michel de Montaigne's writings in his Essays and on much of the prose work of Seamus Heaney. It suggests specific parallels in the theoretical work of Charles Olson and Wallace Stevens, and in the poetry of Derek Walcott. In addition to these parallels, the author wants also to suggest that Thomas's 'project' in autobiography has much in common with Carl Jung's theories of the subconscious and unconscious as Jung writes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
This culminating chapter shifts the focus to Shakespeare’s late plays,
notably the generically pivotal Pericles (almost certainly a collaboration
with George Wilkins) and that supreme instance of Shakespearean tragicomic
romance, The Winter’s Tale. The now-dominant critical view of Italian
influence is qualified with reference to the diverse kinds and origins of
tragicomedy in English, including those with French analogues and those
mediated by French sources, notably French versions of the antique novel.
The redaction of the Apollonius of Tyre story incorporated by François de
Belleforest in his Histoires tragiques receives close attention as an
intertext for both Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Its importance extends to
recuperating from the antique romance tradition a notion of tragicomedy as
being, in effect, tragédie à fin heureuse. Shakespeare’s use of Michel de
Montaigne’s Essais in the translation of John Florio is also reviewed from
this perspective – not merely the well-known passage from ‘Of the
Caniballes’ adapted in The Tempest, but several textual traces from other
essays, previously unnoticed, that arguably shed light on the movement in
Shakespeare’s final plays (including Cymbeline and The Two Noble Kinsmen, a
collaboration with John Fletcher) towards a generic synthesis mirroring an
all-inclusive vision of human experience.
M. Krier in Gazing on Secret Sights: Spenser, Classical
Imitation, and the Decorums of Vision (Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1990), pp. 157–67.
MicheldeMontaigne, Essays , III, v:
‘Sur des vers de Virgile’ (‘On some lines of
Virgil’). While Montaigne transfers Lavinia’s blush onto
Ryme , ed. Arthur C. Sprague (London: Routledge and Kegan
Paul, 1950 ), p. 141.
MicheldeMontaigne, Les Essais , 2, ed.
P. Villey, V. L. Saulnier, and M. Conche (Paris: Quadrige / PUF, 2004 ), p. 492. For a consideration of
whether Montaigne did actually encounter Tasso directly in Italy,
see Ayesha Ramachandran, ‘Montaigne
Essay 1.19, MicheldeMontaigne, Les Essais , ed. Jean Balsamo et al. (Paris: Gallimard, 2007), pp. 80–2; The Complete Essays , ed. and trans. M.A. Screech (New York: Penguin, 1991), pp. 85–8. All English translations from Montaigne are from this edition.
Herodotus, The Histories , ed. and trans. Robert Waterfield (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), Book 1.30–3, pp. 13
The English Patient , Stephanie M. Hilger helpfully situates the novel ‘within the long-standing Western tradition of writing about the cultural ‘Other’ from Herodotus to MicheldeMontaigne to Rudyard Kipling.’ 39 Elsewhere Stephen Scobie provides an intriguing stylistic account of the novel’s patterns of imagery, symbol and metaphor and an astute analysis of the novel’s reworking of its intertextual sources. 40 Some critics were unnerved by Kip’s angry denunciation of the Western powers following the atomic bombing of Japan and regretted what they saw as its
Renaissance, Moulton suggests that MicheldeMontaigne and François Rabelais bestow on the reader of their texts a gamut of emotions, including the possibility of happiness through contemplation. Relatedly, Ullrich Langer's essay argues that the early modern experience of pleasurable sensations exhibits a kind of positive emotion, one that is not passive, but rather the result of deliberate, virtuous action. Ranging widely among classical, Italian, and French texts, Langer demonstrates the particular pleasure produced by the early modern rhetorical feature of variety. These
John Donne, George Chapman and the senses of night in the 1590s
conveying an immediate set of implications that are
ready to be challenged. The eye’s evidence is crucial, but to take it at face
value would be foolish. Whatever the right answer might be to ‘Did we lie
downe, because ’twas night?’, it is not uncomplicatedly ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, though
the sensory knowledge of night is helpful in working out the answer.
Although the sermons, offering explicit answers to doubt, tend to focus discussion of Donne’s scepticism, we know that Donne read MicheldeMontaigne
and Agrippa, both of whom explored doubt.33 The ‘nothing’ that speaks the
Montaigne, Les Essais de MicheldeMontaigne (Paris: Club Français du Livre, 1962), II.xxxv, ‘De trois bonnes femmes’, p. 815.
49 Montaigne’s Essays translated by John Florio , ed. L. C. Harmer, 3 vols (London: Dent, 1965 ), vol. II, xxxv, ‘Of three good women’, p. 481.
50 D. Magni Ausonii … opera , p. 11; Gynaikeion , VII, ‘Of women excellent in the art of painting, weaving, &c’, pp. 352–3.
51 Caelus or Uranus ‘filius fuit Aetheris et Diei’ in the 1532 edition of Boccaccio’s Genealogia deorum gentilium prepared by Micyllus, De montium, silvarum